Delta and United announce frequent flyer status extensions

Delta Air Lines on April 5th announced adjustments to its SkyMiles frequent flyer loyalty program in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, which has negatively impacted air travel globally.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A321 in 'Thank You' Livery. Photo by Brandon Ravelo | AeroNewsX

The changes include the extension of current Medallion status memberships through 2021 in what is a 12-month extension, and the rolling over to 2021 of Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) attained in 2020 in order to qualify for 2022 Medallion status. For Delta Sky Club individual and Executive memberships with an expiration date of March 1, 2020 or later, they will receive Sky Club access to last for six months after their expiry.

Additionally, Delta also announced a number of benefits for SkyMiles American Express Card Members and SkyMiles Members. However, these will not apply to an extension of their status, but only to the validity period of certain benefits accorded to these members.

Following the announcement by Delta, United announced that it would be extending current MileagePlus Premier memberships to January 31, 2022. United will also reduce the 2020 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) across all tiers by 50%, but still require a minimum of four segments travelled on United or United Express.

In the same vein, United has also revealed plans to double PQP for United Explorer cards and quadruple for United Club cards, a six-month extension to PlusPoints for 1K and Platinum members, a six-month extension for all annual membership and subscription benefits, and an intention to make it easier to earn status in 2021 for the sake of the 2022 program year.

All changes above will be automatically applied by the airlines, with no need for customers to act on them.

The move by Delta, and consequently United, follows similar announcements by other major carriers worldwide. Last week, Singapore Airlines revealed plans to renew membership for one year for its KrisFlyer Elite Silver and Gold members, and to also extend Elite Gold Rewards that were to expire between July and December 2020 until 31 March 2021.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 (1,000th Dreamliner produced by Boeing). Photo by Devin Ruhotina | AeroNewsX

Elsewhere, airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Qatar Airways have announced a host of measures meant to ensure the continued validity of their members' frequent flyer status, ranging from tier extensions to the award of relief points or monthly bonuses in order to maintain their current status.

It remains to be seen what other major U.S and global carriers such as American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and the Lufthansa Group have planned for their frequent flyer status holders. The recent announcements by Delta, United, and other major players in the global industry will no doubt serve as a push to the announcement of similar intentions by those that have yet to do so.

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